Uncontested divorces are more affordable and less time-consuming than traditional litigation.
They are also more preferable when minor children are involved as an uncontested divorce inflicts less mental damage to all the participants.
However, the presence of children has additional issues to consider.
In an uncontested divorce with children , the parents and the judges must ensure that the final decree is in the child’s best interests and contains the terms for child custody, parenting time, and child support obligation.
Can you have an uncontested divorce with children?
Uncontested divorce with a child is almost the same as a mutual agreement divorce. But there are several differences.
For example, a settlement agreement for dissolution with kids includes child custody arrangements (e.g., physical and legal custody decisions) and financial support.
It is available for couples who can negotiate and resolve their disputes outside court before starting the divorce process.
Spouses can even file their petitions and other papers jointly in some states.
Couples who cannot agree on all issues and have several unresolved minor disagreements can still avoid court trials. To proceed with an amicable dissolution, they can use mediation.
It’s an alternative way to resolve marital issues during separation.
Find a great divorce mediation guide here:
The cost of uncontested divorce with kids
The overall cost depends on whether spouses hire an attorney to complete the child custody forms and other papers and represent the case in court.
Since their hourly rate can sometimes reach $500, the cost of uncontested divorce with kids will likely rise to several thousand dollars.
But even so, it is still more affordable than a traditional contested divorce. For instance, a typical contested divorce with children can reach $20,000.
In addition, couples who cannot resolve their issues beforehand and file for a contested divorce without a custody agreement will have to go through full-scale litigation, which is usually a pricy process.
The cheapest way to get a divorce with a child is to prepare all the documentation without an attorney’s help.
In this case, the spouses will only need to pay the filing fees when submitting their papers to the court.
The court fees can even be waived if the filing couple cannot afford to pay them.
The biggest challenge is collecting and filling out the required forms correctly.
Unfortunately, mistakes are common when spouses without legal backgrounds want to get a cheap divorce with kids and file no-fault papers independently.
For this reason, many of them get the paperwork from online resources or have a lawyer review them.
How to file for divorce with kids
Different states have specific rules on how to file for divorce with kids. But one thing they have in common is the issue of jurisdiction.
Every couple must meet the residency requirements of the state and county where they want to file their case.
For instance, one of the spouses must currently live in the area for a specific number of days or intend to continue living there after the final judgment.
Additionally, the child custody proceeding is usually held in the location where the child lives.
Typical divorce proceedings start when a person files a petition (in some states, it is called a complaint) and other documents with the court.
Along with the papers, the petitioner must pay a filing fee so that the court accepts and processes the divorce paperwork.
If there are no errors in the forms, the clerk will assign a number to the case. After that, the petitioner must give the soon-to-be ex-spouse legal notice and present the court with the proof.
There could be a waiting period for couples filing for divorce with kids before proceeding with the rest of the process.
Papers for uncontested cases with children
Divorce papers for couples with children include several standard forms and a few specific ones.
When children are involved, the spouses should file extra divorce paperwork regarding child custody issues, such as a custody schedule and support obligations.
The list below is not exhaustive:
- Summons, or waiver of personal service;
- Parenting plan with physical and legal custody provisions;
- Child support worksheets;
- A certificate confirming the completion of parenting classes;
- The final decree, etc.
Some forms need to be filed with the petition, while others can be turned in to court later.
How to get a quick divorce with kids
An uncontested or “no contest” divorce with children is the simplest way to reduce the time needed to end a marriage and obtain a final divorce decree.
A simple divorce with a child means that you and your spouse agree on child custody and support issues and, thus, don’t need to go to trial.
Uncontested divorce with a child doesn’t usually require a lawyer.
Since all the child-related issues are agreed upon in advance, the divorcing couple only needs to put the terms in writing and submit their agreement for the court’s approval.
It relieves the family from the financial burden of paying for legal representation.
However, even when the parents put all child-related terms into their uncontested divorce settlement agreement, it will not be automatically approved.
Family law judges carefully review every provision with the child’s best interests in mind.
Typically, the spouses will need to attend an uncontested custody hearing before the case goes forward.
If all child custody matters were handled correctly, a judge will approve the agreement and issue a final decree after a waiting period, if any.
How is child support determined?
Financial support for kids in uncontested divorce can be determined either by the parents or with the help of child support agencies.
If the parents decide on the amount independently, they should use child support guidelines.
Each state has child support tables that courts usually use to determine each parent’s share of payments. The basis of each table is parental income and the number of children.
In addition, SupportPay provides couples with a child support calculator to estimate their monthly child support obligation.
Find the child support calculator here:
Yet, the figures are approximate and can be changed by the judge during the divorce process.
The amount of support cannot substantially differ from the guidelines unless specific circumstances (such as disability) are considered.
Can you get a divorce without child support?
The family courts will not grant an uncontested divorce without establishing financial support for children.
Both spouses have to support their minor children until they reach adulthood or become emancipated.
Even if one parent has sole custody, it does not relieve the other parent from paying their share of support.
Typically, in the case of sole physical custody, only a non-custodial parent makes the support payments.
That is because the judge presumes that the custodial parent already spends financial resources for their children’s health, education, and other daily needs.
How is uncontested child custody handled?
No court will issue a final divorce decree to spouses with children without child custody arrangements in place. Usually, couples pursuing uncontested divorce with kids file a joint parenting plan.
It outlines each parent’s responsibilities in raising a child when the marriage is over. The plan includes physical and legal custody arrangements and parenting time provisions, among other terms.
The judge will review the proposed parenting plan and decide whether it will create a healthy environment for a child.
A divorce agreement for couples with minor children should include:
- Physical custody, which determines where a child will live;
- Legal custody, which specifies who will make significant decisions about children’s well-being;
- Visitation schedule;
- Child support plan;
- Provisions about resolving parental conflicts, etc.
Couples pursuing an uncontested divorce with children usually settle for joint legal custody and sole physical custody.
Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights in making decisions about their child’s upbringing.
Sole physical custody means that the child permanently lives with a custodial parent and spends time with the other parent according to the visitation schedule.
As a rule, judges prefer physical custody arrangements where both former spouses spend enough time with a child to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship.
How does child visitation work?
If a child lives with a custodial parent, the other non-custodial parent usually receives visitation rights to spend time with the child one on one.
In an uncontested divorce, both parents work on the visitation schedule together.
Since splitting the time 50/50 between the parents is not always possible, a child usually spends slightly more time with a primary physical custodian than the other parent.
The arrangements can also involve grandparents and other meaningful relatives.
It’s essential to create a visitation schedule that would work well for all family members, especially children.
The parents should consider the child’s age, health, everyday activities, and the distance between parental homes.
The plan should cover:
- weekdays and weekends;
- summer vacation from school, etc.
Some states, such as Texas, have standard schedules with rules on how many days a child spends with a non-custodial parent.
But in most cases, visitation can be altered if both parents agree.
How we can help
Online Divorce is a trustworthy resource that helps prepare the necessary documents online if you decide to file for uncontested divorce yourself.
Instead of hiring an attorney to draft uncontested divorce forms, you can entrust your divorce paperwork to us and save lots of money on legal services.
If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce and the child-related issues, Online Divorce is the right solution for you.
We generate customized online divorce papers for spouses with a child according to state standards and particular circumstances.
The entire process is straightforward and is accompanied by detailed step-by-step instructions.
Clients can also contact customer support for clarification of specific issues. Note, however, that we cannot provide any legal advice on what decisions to make.